News Analysis

World news

Madison, Wisconsin
Charity seeks funds for crypt in memory of bishop
The diocese of Madison is seeking to raise funds for a cathedral crypt in memory of Bishop Robert Morlino, who died last month. The diocese has been without a cathedral since 2005, when it was destroyed by arson. The Catholic Diocese of Madison Foundation, a charity that supports the diocese, has invited mourners to donate to a memorial fund for a crypt and chapel to go in a future cathedral building. The crypt would house Bishop Morlino’s tomb, along with those of past and future bishops. Bishop Morlino (pictured), who died aged 71, led the diocese from 2003. A Requiem Mass was held at St Maria Goretti church on Tuesday.

Chattanooga, Tennessee
Diocese asks to exhume body of potential saint
The diocese of Knoxville has applied to exhume the remains of a 19th-century priest who is on the path to canonisation. Fr Patrick Ryan, whose Cause was opened two years ago, died aged 33 while ministering to victims of a yellow fever epidemic in Chattanooga. The diocese wants to move his remains to the city’s Basilica of Ss Peter and Paul. Normally, exhumations require the permission of a relative, but in Ryan’s case there are none. Fr David Carter, pastor at the basilica, said that, when the yellow fever arrived in the town in 1878, Ryan could easily have fled, as most people did. “Instead, he heroically ministered to the people knowing its dangers,” he said. Eight years after his death he was reburied in the city’s newly opened Mt Olivet cemetery.

Winnemucca, Nevada
Couple bring Adoration to 177 dioceses
Catholic musicians are on a 95-day tour to promote Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in parishes across the United States. The 177 Project consists of two teams of musicians travelling to 177 dioceses. The evenings begin with the rosary and end with Benediction. A concert is performed, and there is a chance for Confession, but the focal point is Adoration. Rachel Wall, who organised the project along with her husband Jason, said she felt called to put people “physically in front of ” Christ. Christina Davis, a diocesan youth minister who invited the team to St Paul’s, Winnemucca, said it was a “phenomenal experience” with “standing room only”.

Caracas, Venezuela
Cardinal: keep hope alive in this dark night
At a “Mass of hope” on the eve of Advent last Saturday, a Venezuelan cardinal said that, “in the middle of this dark night”, Catholics must work to “keep alive the light of hope”. Cardinal Baltazar Enrique Porras Cardozo (pictured), apostolic administrator of Caracas, said the country faced many problems, including “public services that do not work” and a “lack of light, water, fuel [and] transportation”. But Christians, even “amid inhuman adversity … do not resign ourselves because the Lord we expect is a God of the living, not of the dead”. To stay hopeful, he said, “let’s live the Advent season”, preserving Venezuela’s “beautiful” traditions, such as Nativity scenes.

Chileans can now easily change their legal gender
Chile’s president Sebastián Piñera has signed into law a bill that allows Chileans aged over 14 to change their name and gender in official records.
The bill was first introduced by the then president Michelle Bachelet five years ago but was delayed by an appeal in the courts arguing it was unconstitutional. It defines gender identity as “the personal or internal conviction of being a man or woman”. Teenagers aged between 14 and 18 must first obtain the consent of parents or legal guardians.

Montevideo, Uruguay
Cardinal starts Christmas campaign
Cardinal Daniel Sturla of Montevideo has proposed six ways for Uruguayans to recover the meaning of Christmas. The first step, explained in a video posted online, is to hang a picture of the Holy Family on one’s balcony – an initiative that started in 2016, when 30,000 Catholics took part. The second is to pray the rosary at one of four holy sites in Montevideo. Other steps include the blessing of the Christ Child in Nativity scenes, doing a work of mercy in the community and praying with one’s family on Christmas Eve. Uruguay is the most secular country in Latin America, with four in 10 people professing no faith.

Cardinal: we must raise the moral level of the clergy
Cardinal Gerhard Müller has called for “spiritual renewal” as a response to the abuse crisis and said that “we must raise the moral level of the clergy”. The Vatican’s former doctrinal chief told Vatican Insider that, while new procedures were being drafted to combat clerical abuse, “spiritual renewal and conversion are more important. There are priests who never go to spiritual exercises, never approach the confessional, never pray the breviary. And when the spiritual life is empty, how can a priest act according to Christ?” Addressing the Vatican’s US intervention, he said the Church must avoid “confrontation”, and suggested that US bishops should have consulted the Vatican’s doctrinal office before their assembly.

Taiyuan, China
Catholics pray outside locked-up pilgrimage site
Catholics in central China are continuing to attend Mass outside a shrine that they have been locked out of since July. Authorities have declared the Shrine of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows unsafe for use but have yet to respond to an application to build a new church. The shrine, established in 1893, draws tens of thousands of pilgrims a year, according to the website Bitter Winter, which monitors religious freedom in China. A statue of an angel was also demolished there earlier this year.

Ancient scroll dated
A scroll held at SawadaMiki Kinenkan museum near Tokyo is from the earliest days of Christianity in Japan, scholars have concluded. The scroll, which depicts Jesus’s death and Resurrection, was likely drawn in the late 16th century, just as fierce persecution began.

Bangui, Central African Republic
Catholics observe day of mourning after massacre
The Church in the Central African Republic held a day of mourning on Saturday in response to violence by armed gangs in large swathes of the country.
Saturday was the country’s independence day and the bishops urged “men and women of good will to refrain from celebrating”. Sunday, meanwhile, was declared a day of prayer for victims of violence. Last month at least 42 people were killed, including two priests, in an attack by an armed Muslim group on a cathedral compound in Alindao.

Davao City, Philippines
Church leaders defend bishop slandered by Duterte
Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao City, head of the Philippines’ bishops’ conference, has said Church leaders are “saddened and disturbed” by Rodrigo Duterte’s repeated attacks on a bishop. The president first accused Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Caloocan of diverting Church donations to his own family. Then he said the bishop, one of his fiercest critics, might be into drugs. Bishop David, who has described his diocese as a “killing field” thanks to Duterte’s war on drugs, said in a reply on Facebook: “I only take vitamins with fruit shake blended with malunggay [a health food] in the morning.” Archbishop Valles said he was a “very good bishop, a dedicated shepherd and father of his flock”.